Paguma larvata


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Paguma larvata
Species Authority: (C.E.H. Smith, 1827)
Common Name(s):
English Masked Palm Civet, Himalayan Palm Civet, Gem-faced Civet
Taxonomic Notes: Corbet and Hill (1992) listed six subspecies, but a taxonomic revision is needed for this species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Duckworth, J.W., Wozencraft, C. & Kanchanasaka, B.
Reviewer(s): Belant, J. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
This species is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, occurrence in many protected areas, tolerance to some degree of habitat modification, and because it is unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category. Although forest lost has been extensive in the lowlands of the Sundaic portion of its range, its wide altitudinal use means that a large proportion of its Sundaic population lives outside the lowlands.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Recent records include China (Hubei province, Zhang pers. comm.), Lao PDR (Duckworth, 1997), Peninsular Malaysia (Azlan, 2003; Kawanishi and Sunquist, 2004; Laidlaw pers. comm.), Borneo (Simons, 1987; Blundell, 1996; Gonner, 1997; van Strien, 2001), Sumatra (Berghaeir, 1995), Thailand (Rabinowitz, 1991; Grassman, 1998) and Viet Nam (Long and Minh Hoang 2006, Veron, pers. obs.), Myanmar (Than Zaw et al. in press), Cambodia (J. L. Walmart pers. comm.), India (Choudhury 1997). In India it extends west to Kashmir (Pocock 1939); recent records for the western portion of its range (including Nepal) have not been checked for. Brooks and Dutson (1994) saw the species in the Gede/Pangrango National Park in Java, however, the species had not otherwise been recorded for the island and the authors suggested that it was probably introduced.

Payne et al. (1985) underestimated the range in southern Borneo. A specimen from Barito River (van Strien, 2001) suggest that this is part of the range. Also records from S. Wain and Belayan River (G. Frederiksson in litt to E. Meijaard), and Mahakam Lages (Gonner 1997); probably also in Danau Sentarum NP (Jeanes and Meijaard, 2000); and reported from G. Niut (Simons, 1987) and G. Palung (Blundell, 1996).

This species is found in China from Szechuan to Fukien and the southeast coast of Yunnan, west along the Himalayas to Kashmir, in Indochina, Thailand, Malaya, Sumatra, Borneo, and the Andaman Islands, it was also reported from Japan in the 1980s (Lekagul and McNeely, 1988). It has also been recorded from Koh yao (9 00 N, 98 00 E) off Thailand and Rutland (11 25 N, 92 40 E) of India (Meiri, 2005).
Bhutan; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China; India (Andaman Is.); Indonesia (Kalimantan, Sumatera); Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak); Myanmar; Nepal; Thailand; Viet Nam
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The species seems to be common across its range, except in southern China where it has been hunted/trapped for the commercial food trade (M. Lau pers. comm. 2006). In Indochina it is associated with evergreen forests and in Lao it is common in hill evergreen forests (Duckworth 1997), and in India with deciduous forests and in open areas near towns (Muddapa pers. comm.). There are few records from Cambodia (Olsson pers. comm.). In Thailand, it is common in evergreen forests (Kanchanasaka pers. comm.).

Populations are difficult to assess by camera-trapping, as shown in Myanmar where comparing results of this method at several sites where there were also serious searches for hunted remains in villages reveals that even high levels of camera-trapping may fail to detect the species. This presumably reflects its semi-arboreal lifestyle (Than Zaw et al. in press.). The rather few camera-trapping records for Cambodia (J. L. Walstone pers. comm.) and Myanmar should not therefore be seen as evidence that the species lives at low population densities.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Masked palm civets have been recorded in both evergreen and deciduous forest, and in disturbed habitat (Rabinowitz, 1991, Ratnam et al. 1995; Heydon and Bullon, 1996; Grassman, 1998; Duckworth 1997; Azlan, 2003; Roberton pers. comm.). There seems to be some difference in habitat usage across its range. It has been found up to 2500 m (Thinley et al. 1994). There are two published radio-telemetry studies on this species (Rabinowitz, 1991; Grassman, 1998). In Thailand, the home-range was 5.9 km² for an adult male (Grassman, 1998) and 3.7 km² for an adult female (Rabinowitz, 1991). Both studies showed that masked palm civets are nocturnal with occasional diurnal activity; this finding based on only two individuals is probably generalisable to the species as a whole, based on field observations of many individuals (e.g. Duckworth 1997) and camera-trapping (e.g. Than Zaw et al. in press).

The species is often very common in appropriate habitats. In Lao PDR, "recent records of this species come only from large blocks of evergreen forest above 500 m, and the three historical sites listed in Osgood (1932) are all also above this altitude (Duckworth et al, 1999)" - however, the species can be found at lower elevations in Cambodia and Viet Nam (sea level) (Roberton S., pers comm.). This species is nocturnal, partly arboreal, and omnivorous (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). It is often found near secondary growth, where it may hunt for rats, and chickens, as well as forage through ricefield dumps, and it eats figs, mangoes, bananas, and leaves (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). Many records are known from evergreen forests and deciduous forest and it is common in degraded forest. In China it is a generalist. It is known from peat swamp forests in Malaysia, and a wide variety of natural and human modified habitats, including rural agricultural areas (e.g. Wang and Fuller 2003). In Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Thailand, all records are from evergreen forests.

Up to four young can be born per litter, with two breeding seasons per year (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). Lifespan in captivity is up to 15 years (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). All Bornean civets (except Diplogale hosei) have been recorded in disturbed forest areas, though abundance declines in this habitat (Heydon and Bulloh, 1996; Colon, 2002; pers. comm.). It was recorded in disturbed habitat in Malaysia by Ratnam et al. (1995). It was recorded in secondary forest, that was logged in the 1970s, and which surrounds a palm estate, in Malaysia in 2000-01 by Azlan (2003). Wang and Fuller (2001) conducted a study on the ecology of this species near Taohong Village in northern Jiangxi Province, southeastern China, from April 1993 to November 1994. Wang and Fuller (2003) conducted a study on the food habits of this species in and around a rural agricultural area of southeastern China (Taohong Village, Jiangxi Province) by analyzing its scats, the study was conducted between June 1992 and November 1994, and found that this species ate some mammals and insects, but mostly fruit.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: In a study on the dynamics of trade in live wildlife across the Guangxi border between China and Vietnam during 1993 to 1996, Li and Li (1998) "noted that the volume of trade in Paguma lavata was small, but the percentage of [it] in the restaurants was very large. This suggested that the supply of [this] species in the restaurants was partly from the domestic wildlife trade in China." It is farmed in China and elsewhere, and used for food throughout its range. SARS is a major issue for this species, causing the trade and sale of it to be banned in order to control the disease, as well as many breeding farms being closed. It is threatened in Vietnam for local consumption.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The impact of habitat loss and degradation on masked palm civet populations is unknown. Heydon and Bulloh (1996) found that the overall density of civet species (including the masked palm civet) in logged forest was significantly lower than in primary forest. It is likely that the species cannot survive total deforestation, but that it persists in degraded and fragmented areas.

In a study on the dynamics of trade in live wildlife across the Guangxi border between China and Viet Nam during 1993 to 1996, Li and Li (1998) "noted that the volume of trade in Paguma lavata was small, but the percentage of [it] in the restaurants was very large. This suggested that the supply of [this] species in the restaurants was partly from the domestic wildlife trade in China." It is farmed in China and elsewhere, and used for food throughout its range. SARS is a major issue for this species, causing the trade and sale of it to be banned in order to control the disease, as well as many breeding farms being closed. It is hunted in Viet Nam for local consumption. It is also hunted in Lao PDR, for local consumption and in trade to Viet Nam (W. Duckworth in litt. 2006), but there is no evidence from either of these countries that these activities are threatening populations. Because it is quite arboreal, it spends that proportion of its time outside the range of snares and most traps, and so is less exposed to them than are the more ground-dwelling small carnivores.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species occurs in protected areas throughout its range. This species was recorded from Jerangau Forest Reserve in Peninsular Malaysia in 2000-01 (Azlan, 2003). It was also recorded from Temengor Forest Reserve in Malaysia by Ratnam et al. (1995). This species is protected in Malaysia (Azlan pers. comm.). It is protected by law in Gansu, China (Li et al, 2000). In China, it is listed as Near Threatened (A2cd). It is protected in Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand. The population of India is listed on CITES Appendix III.

Bibliography [top]

Bell, D., Roberton, S. and Hunter, P.R. 2004. Animal origins of SARS coronavirus: possible links with the international trade in small carnivores. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Biological Sciences 359: 1107–1114.

Blundell, A.G. 1996. A preliminary checklist of mammals at Cabang Panti research station, Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan. Tropical Biodiversity 3: 251–259.

Brooks, T.M. and Dutson, G.C.L. 1994. A sighting of a Masked Palm Civet (Paguma larvata) on Java. Small Carnivore Conservation 11: 19.

Corbet, G.B. and Hill, J.E. 1992. Mammals of the Indo-Malayan Region: a Systematic Review. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Gonner, C. 1997. Description of the middle Mahakam area. Unpublished report.

Grassman, L.I., Jr. 1998. Movements and fruit selection of two Paradoxurinae species in a dry evergreen forest in Southern Thailand. Small Carnivore Conservation 19: 25-29.

Kawanishi, K. and Sunquist, M.E. 2004. Conservation status of Tigers in a primary rainforest of Peninsular Malaysia. Biological Conservation 120(3): 329–344.

Lekagul, B. and McNeely, J.A. 1988. Mammals of Thailand. Association for the Conservation of Wildlife, Bangkok, Thailand.

Mohd-Azlan, J. 2003. The diversity and conservation of mustelids, viverrids, and herpestids in a disturbed forest in Peninsular Malaysia. Small Carnivore Conservation 29: 8–9.

Simons, P. 1987. Gunung Niut Nature Reserve. Proposed Management Plan. AWB, Jakarta.

Van Strien, N.J. 2001. Indoaustralian mammals. A taxonomic and faunistic reference and atlas. ETI, Amsterdam.

Wangchuk, Tashi, Phuntso Thinley, Karma Tshering, Chado Tshering and Deki Yonten. 1994. Field Guide to the Mammals of Bhutan. Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation.

Wozencraft, W.C. 2005. Order Carnivora. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Third Edition, pp. 532-628. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Citation: Duckworth, J.W., Wozencraft, C. & Kanchanasaka, B. 2008. Paguma larvata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 04 September 2015.
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